A young horse just died at this Racetrack — and no one’s talking about it

His was the third death in just two months.

Horses jump out of the starting gate at Saratoga racecourse. Saratoga.com.
Horses jump out of the starting gate at Saratoga racecourse. Saratoga.com.

THE DODO | BY SARAH V. SCHWEIG | JULY 26, 2017 | Link to Article

A 3-year-old thoroughbred horse named Wanztbwicked was euthanized on the Saratoga racetrack on Saturday after breaking down during training — he’s the third horse to die at the New York track in just two months — and no one’s really even talking about it.

That’s because casualties like this are the norm for horse racing. Hundreds of horses die on tracks in the U.S. every year.

In just New York state so far this year, over 50 horses have died at racetracks and many more have been injured. Last year, at Saratoga alone, 17 horses died from racing-related injuries.

Part of the reason so many young racehorses die is because of a lack of regulation on drugs administered to the animals, according to Vivian Grant Farrell, founder and president of The Horse Fund, an organization that promotes horse welfare. Farrell said that horses are commonly given drugs to mask preexisting injuries so that they can “run through the pain,” and this compromises their safety.

“Man and animal alike love to do what they were created to. Racehorses love to run. But some even go so far as to believe that racehorses love to compete. Perhaps, but not in the way a human being does. In the instance of horse racing, too often humans project insatiable appetites for money and glory onto the performance of these magnificent animals,” Farrell told The Dodo after a young horse died at the Belmont Stakes in 2015. And little has changed since that death, and so many others.

“Horses continue to die unnecessarily on America’s racetracks,” Jane Allin, research writer for The Horse Fund, told The Dodo.

One of the most memorable deaths on the track was a horse named Eight Belles, who was euthanized at the Kentucky Derby after getting injured on May 3, 2008. “It was her tragic death that spurred a major undertaking to address the pervasive use of drugs — both therapeutic and performance-enhancing — in every division of horse racing occurring on the tracks across the U.S.,” Allin said. “Since this time, has anything really changed?”

Eight Belles falls to her chest as she fractures both front legs after crossing the finish line in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
Eight Belles falls to her chest as she fractures both front legs after crossing the finish line in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

In terms of drug use, nothing has changed, according to Allin. “Year after year, the racing industry meets to discuss and argue about developing new regulations … but the industry itself is divided and so the ideas of many well-intentioned individuals are mired in disagreement,” she said.

Allin pointed out that Saratoga, like other tracks across the nation, has a history of death. “With the rampant use of drugs in North America, unlike other jurisdictions in the world, there is certainty that horses are compromised, leading to a greater number of fatalities on the track, reported or not,” Allin said. “It seems no horse is immune to these abhorrent practices… Horse racing in North America is a sham. Until real changes [take place], racing here will continue down the ugly path of deceit and death.”

Even if better regulations pass, there are other problems that cast a dark cloud over the industry. “There are some horse racing jurisdictions that are highly praised such as Hong Kong where drug abuse is virtually nonexistent. However, gambling is the heartbeat of horse racing and it has much more to do with running ‘clean’ races, which bettors in their culture demand, than any consideration for the racehorse,” Farrell told The Dodo. For instance, it is not uncommon for ex-racehorses to be shipped to slaughter or die of neglect. “How can you make an industry humane that for decades has been dumping racehorses of no further use to them in slaughterhouses?” Farrell said.

Read full article »

Additional Reading

Horse Racing Special Reports, Jane Allin »
Horseracing Wrongs, Patrick Battuello »
Racehorses Killed in 2017, Patrick Battuello »

Featured Image

Horses jump out of the starting gate at Saratoga racecourse. Saratoga.com.

7 thoughts on “A young horse just died at this Racetrack — and no one’s talking about it”

  1. #1 they race them and the bones are not set the knees not set yet, they are pushed to point of no return.
    Greed is part of it, nOt caring is another , wanting to win at all cost, etc. Sick people who push young horses in to a grave…should be laws to protect them, the horses.


  2. I am part of a rescue group of another breed but we hear the horrors of horses shipped to slaughter that are other breeds.

    It has been said that TB do not even get posted for rescue because the industry wants this not noticed and because TB horses have tattoos so they can be identified as can those sending them to slaughter.

    There are stories of TBs having the mouth tattoos cut out or burned out so they cannot be identified. All horrific practices associated with horse racing need to stop.


    1. Thank you Sandy for commenting on the tattoo removals of slaughter bound Thoroughbreds. The crimes committed by the horse racing industry seem to be never ending.

      And why should the racing industry care about such things like young horses are dying during training at a higher and higher rate each year — two and three year olds — before they even enter a race. Instead, they have the gall to say that they are doing better and not as many are dying. This shows the arrogance of these people.

      Horse racing needs to end. Let the gamblers gamble on races that have already been run where the horses are long gone and buried and cannot be harmed by these vile people.

      Or hit the slot machines.

      Or let them bet on one of the sick sports that use humans. Humans choose to take the risks for the million dollar payouts, right? Who cares that they blow their brains out later like NFL players do from successive concussions among other things. That’s their argument. Same type of people.

      It is all unbelievably cruel to horse and human. But the horses have no say whatsoever.


  3. God Bless this poor horse.

    Are there any comparison studies that have attempted to demonstrate differences among trotters/pacers, quarter horses and thoroughbreds in terms of track breakdowns/euthanasia? Are there major differences among track surfaces?

    Surely there is grant money somewhere to pay for such a study if one hasn’t been done. I believe that euthanasia occurs far less often for harness horses and quarter horses. Are track surfaces significantly different? Do distances raced matter? Does conformation make any difference? I have another dozen questions. We need exploration, examination, evaluation and just maybe solutions.



  4. Any person who knowingly abuses any animal will move on to ABUSE CHILDREN. Yes it’s been proven. Stop all the abuse now


  5. “Part of the reason so many young racehorses die is because of a lack of regulation on drugs administered to the animals,” Vivian Grant Farrell.
    Absolutely, but there’s much more behind this statement.
    When the cheaters are caught they are given such minimal punishment that there is no deterrence.
    In fact, the top trainers in the country (Pletcher, Baffert, Asmussen, O’Neill) are MULTIPLE drug violating Trainers who have serious doping records, and multiple racehorses that have died under their direct care.
    Being inducted into the Racing Hall of (Sh)ame is actually condoning this behavior.
    These trainers are putting serious drugs into the veins, muscles, and/or joints of racehorses from tranquilizers to freezing their nerves based on their doping positives.
    When you are freezing the nerve you are denying the racehorse the ability to feel pain, and protect itself.
    That’s why it keeps running until its leg(s) snap-off in many cases, and down in the dirt they die.
    This is vehicular homicide – animal version.
    Of course the maimed jockeys are a victim as well.
    Let’s be clear the mandatory operating procedures of beating/whipping, doping, maiming, dumping, and/or killing happens at ALL levels, and on ALL racetracks.
    The industry likes to perpetuate an image that somehow the upper level racehorses are immune to such treatment which is absolutely false.
    They are all victims – all vulnerable to this legitimized animal cruelty.


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